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Vol. 15, No. 33 Week of August 15, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

More leases dropped

Eni, Anadarko and FEX relinquish a total of 470,348 acres in northern AK

Alan Bailey

Petroleum News

According to the latest oil and gas lease report issued by Alaska’s Division of Oil and Gas, Eni Petroleum, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and FEX, Talisman Energy’s Alaska subsidiary, have all relinquished significant state lease positions in northern Alaska. The relinquishments come just a month or so after Eni terminated its Rock Flour unit in the central North Slope.

Maggiore dropped

In this latest round of relinquishments Eni has dropped 14 leases covering 79,838 acres around the Maggiore prospect, in the central North Slope southwest of the Prudhoe Bay field. That leaves Eni with just the North Tarn prospect in its onshore North Slope exploration portfolio — the company is currently focusing on developing its nearshore Beaufort Sea Nikaitchuq oil field and is working with Shell to do some outer continental shelf seismic surveying on jointly owned leases in the Harrison Bay area of the Beaufort Sea.

Nikaitchuq is slated to come online in early 2011.

Eni drilled a well in its Maggiore prospect in the winter of 2006-07 and, at that time, planned to drill two further wells in the prospect. However, those two additional wells were never drilled — Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records indicate that AOGCC issued a permit for a second Maggiore well in March 2007, but that the permit subsequently expired.

And according to data filed with AOGCC by Eni, the Maggiore No. 1 well reached a measured depth of 9,500 feet and a true vertical depth of 4,404 feet in the Schrader Bluff formation without encountering significant hydrocarbons. Eni has clearly decided not to pursue the Maggiore prospect any further.

Southern foothills

The Anadarko relinquishments consist of 61 leases amounting to 296,375 acres, forming a long east-west fairway in the southern foothills region, immediately north of the Gates of the Arctic National Park.

For several years Anadarko has been exploring for natural gas in the foothills region, in state land, in Native land leased from Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and in U.S. Bureau of Land Management leases in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. BLM spokeswoman Ruth McCoard told Petroleum News Aug. 11 that Anadarko has not relinquished any of its BLM leases. And on Aug. 12 Anadarko spokesman Mark Hanley confirmed that the dropped leases were in the extreme south of the foothills area.

The relinquished leases are in a remote, rugged area where logistics are especially challenging and it is unlikely that Anadarko would have been able to start exploring there before the leases expire, Hanley said.

Although the area in which Anadarko has dropped its leases is thought to have natural gas potential, the company has been exploring in an area of known gas fields in the Gubik complex, near Umiat, some 60 miles to the north of the relinquished acreage. Anadarko and its partners have completed four exploration wells in the Gubik region since 2008.

Anadarko wants to focus its exploration efforts on the Gubik complex, Hanley said.

“It has the most prospectivity, has the easiest logistics,” he said.

Hanley said that, although Anadarko is unlikely to do any new foothills drilling in the winter of 2010-11, the company remains committed to its foothills gas exploration program.

“We’re still trying to put together a multiyear plan,” Hanley said, adding that Anadarko also wants to see what will happen about the proposed North Slope gas line and a potential in-state line.

Harrison Bay

FEX has relinquished 19 leases covering 94,135 acres straddling Harrison Bay, offshore the northeastern corner of the NPR-A. The FEX leases are in a prospective area of the nearshore Beaufort Sea, adjacent to a part of northeastern NPR-A that is not currently available for oil and gas leasing. This particular part of NPR-A, near Teshekpuk Lake, has become the subject of considerable controversy regarding the potential environmental impacts of oil and gas development.

In a March securities filing, Talisman, FEX’s parent company, announced that it was putting up for sale its leases in NPR-A and in the foothills of the Brooks Range.

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